Critical Objective for Los Angeles Chargers #1 Pick: Former OL Analyzes Rookie’s Key Offseason Goal

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

All first-round NFL draft picks come with high expectations. That is even more true for players taken in the top 10. And perhaps the most pressure among those picks may be on the Los Angeles Chargers 5th overall pick, Joe Alt.

While Alt was seen as one of the 2024 Draft’s most pro-ready prospects, most didn’t see a left tackle as the team’s top need, particularly because they already have one on a rookie contract. Rashawn Slater has played at the position for the Chargers in each season since he was drafted in 2021.

There was some speculation that Slater would make the move to the right side. He played there while playing for the Northwestern Wildcats in 2018. But after OTAs and minicamp, it became clear that Alt would be the one asked to make the move to the right side.

Los Angeles Chargers Will Move Joe Alt From Left to Right

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers-OTA
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Former NFL Offensive Lineman, Ross Tucker recently wrote an article for the 33rd Team, “Critical Objectives For 2024 First-Round Offensive Tackles To Succeed In Their NFL Rookie Seasons.” In it, he describes the transition to right tackle as Alt’s primary goal and that successfully doing so will ultimately determine the success of his rookie year. Here is what Tucker wrote;

As the first tackle off the board at pick No. 5, Joe Alt’s expectations are high, and rightfully so. He is coming off a highly decorated career at Notre Dame and was the first pick of the Jim Harbaugh era in Los Angeles. 

“Harbaugh had the best offensive line in college football in his final three years at Michigan and has made it abundantly clear in words and actions that the big guys are his top priority with the Los Angeles Chargers. Right or wrong, the pressure is on Alt to perform at a high level from Day 1.

He will play on the right side to begin his NFL career after playing left tackle at Notre Dame. That’s not an impossible transition, but it is more complicated than people realize. His stance will be different. His weight transfer will be different, and he’ll use the opposite limb as his dominant inside hand.  

Eagles LT Jordan Mailata once said it’s “like wiping your behind with your other hand…you can get the job done, but it’s not going to be pretty.”

That pleasant visual aside, Alt will be in the spotlight all year and doing it with the increased difficulty of switching sides. Just being a solid starting right tackle would be a success for Alt this year, with anything more than that being icing on the cake.”

Joe Alt Has Made Big Moves In His Past

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Stanford
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While Alt didn’t play a snap of right tackle at Notre Dame, he did make perhaps an even more astonishing transition; tight end to left tackle. I wonder what Mailata would have to say about that move. To Alt, he didn’t find that switch to be terribly hard.

“I think for me playing tight end was really helpful when it came to my athletic ability to keep my feet quick,” said Alt at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. “So that was huge when I transitioned to tackle, having that foot speed and that stuff already there. Once I transitioned to left tackle, things moved quickly.”

Obviously, it isn’t a one-to-one comparison, but what’s married to what he is saying is the knowledge of how to apply what he already knows to what he is trying to move toward. The two changes may be worlds apart, but he has proven he has the tools to make it.

NFL: NFL Draft
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports